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09 Mar 11. Before the U.S. Army issues technology development contracts for the Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) program, it needs to answer outstanding questions about the need for the new vehicle, the Government Accountability Office says. Key questions remain about the urgency of the need for GCV, the analysis of alternatives, the seven-year delivery schedule and whether the vehicle will really use mature technologies only, GAO’s Michael Sullivan said during his March 9 testimony before the House Armed Services subcommittee on tactical air and land forces. The subcommittee’s chairman, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., raised similar questions in his opening statement.
“How do we know that the GCV is the full spectrum vehicle that the Army needs,” he asked.
Army vice chief Gen. Peter Chiarelli affirmed that it was, saying it will allow for more space, weight and power, which are nearly maxed out on today’s vehicles. The vehicle is being designed to be able to take on future technologies as they become available, he said. The GAO’s testimony included new details from the Army GCV Red Team report, which show the Army has also asked if the new vehicle is really needed. The Army convened the Red Team last year to scour the program’s requirements and acquisition strategy. The group’s findings led the Army to rescind the original request for proposals in August and release a revised request in November. In its study, the Red Team considered the urgency of the need for GCV in the next seven years. Their report concluded “the funds that have migrated from the [Future Combat Systems] program were driving the events and activities of the program, versus a true capabilities gap,” Sullivan said. The Army’s combat vehicle portfolio review, led by Chiarelli, should shed more light on why GCV is needed and why it is a top priority, Sullivan said. The reviews results are expected soon.
“Decision makers will have to decide if the Army has made a convincing case for the GCV before allowing it to proceed into the technology development phase,” Sullivan said.
Pentagon acquisition chief Ashton Carter will have to weigh that when he meets with Army officials in April for the GCV Milestone A decision. If the Army gets approval, it intends to award up to three contracts for a 24-month technology development phase. With the release of the second request for proposals, the Army announced a $9m to $10.5m cost target for the new vehicle. This is far less than the first set of requirements would have cost, according to Sullivan’s testimony. During the analysis of alternatives – conducted after the release of the first request for proposals – the Army determined the manufacturing unit cost for the vehicle would be $18m to $24m, Sullivan said. The revised request for proposals is supposed to have shed many of the ambitious requirements that originally drove up the cost. Only 130 of the original 900 requirements are now deemed critical, Lt. Gen. William Phillips, military deputy to the Army acquisition chief, said. However, a new, robust analysis of alternatives for the revised requirements has yet to be done, according to GAO. The condensed analysis that was